Recycling risks for banks

19th Jul 2007

I like to think that I’m steadily becoming environmentally friendly. I'm right behind the recycling push, I separate everyday waste into paper, glass, foodstuff, etc, I use energy saving lightbulbs and I turn electrical goods off rather than leave them on standby. I’ve not forsaken my car for a bicycle just yet, but I’m on the right path to becoming green. I’m a sort of aqua colour, I suppose.

So if there’s one thing that really gets my goat it’s the volumes of post that banks send me on a day to day basis, in a bid to flog me a loan, credit card or other financial service. What a waste. The fact is, however, this isn’t just a recycling matter. It doesn’t just offend me in an environmental capacity. It also gets right up my nose as a customer. And I’m not alone.

I recently interviewed a handful of academics and experts for this article. Banks, it would seem, may have been at the forefront of the CRM explosion in the mid-90s, but they are now at the forefront of a wave of customer frustration. Banks are the worst of a bad bunch when it comes to bombarding customers with unwanted and inappropriate mail. Tim Ambler recounted how he had been sent a letter by one bank introducing him to his new relationship manager – a year after he had closed his account with the bank.

“How can you have a relationship manager when you don’t have a relationship?” Tim chuckled. “And yet they didn’t know we had closed our account a year ago. It is absolutely par for the course!” Indeed, often they seem to have adopted a scattergun approach to marketing (although Tim would certainly object to the idea that banks’ efforts could be described as ‘marketing’).

The banking sector embraced customer relationship management when it was in its nascent stages but has failed to evolve from that mindset – it is still focused on collecting customer data only to use it to pump out more marketing material. Leading-edge firms have left this behind and are embracing customer experience management to understand where the client fits into all this.

An evolution of the customer relationship management mindset, CEM is being applied by firms who want to use the data to understand and improve the customer experience. And this is precisely what customers want to hear in 2007. For this reason, we’ll be turning our attention to customer experience management in August.

In the meantime, some banks need to put their customer management operations under the spotlight – or else disgruntled customers might recycle them as well.

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